My chicken flock has grown this summer. Our hens are raising 16 young chicks and all are doing well at the moment. I have a couple more hens that want to set but it’s a little late in the season so I’ve penned them up to try to break the cycle.
Our chickens are free range and live off the farm most of the time. During the winter months I supplement their diet with scraps from the kitchen and occasionally some cracked corn. I make sure they have fresh water year round in the henhouse but they have access to a mountain spring when they’re out on the farm.
I have to keep a close watch on them from predators. We have lots of varmints that like to feast on fresh chicken.We had a fox that was catching the neighbors chickens about a 1/2 mile away and bringing them to her den under our barn to feed her kits. We started finding white chicken feathers and trailed her back to the neighbor.
We’ve had coons come to the hen house and take one a night two years ago. I went from 43 chickens to 17 before we caught him. My chickens were so traumatized they started roosting in the trees. We had an old hen house with lots of soft dirt around it that they (varmints) used to get in and drag the poor hens through the holes. We found two hens stuck in the holes and I was mad at the world for the suffering they went through before dying. Hubby dug a trench around the hen house, put up metal sheeting and filled in the trench with large gravel.
So far so good. I’m really amazed the coons, foxes, coyotes and hawks haven’t got some of mine since ours are free roam all over the farm and aren’t pinned up except at night. We should have plenty of eggs for the fall and winter leaving some to sell as well.